“Rahab, we should take the kids out today,” Manasseh suggested to his wife last Sunday after church.
“Where do we go?” Rahab answered after a moment.
“To the stadium, Kasarani Stadium. The world under 18 championships is underway. It will be an opportunity for the small ones to see the world and perhaps get inspired,” Manasseh expounded.
“You know we are the Akorino, we should not be carried away by this world but if it’s to the stadium no problem Manasseh. Let me prepare Zephaniah and Luke. ”
There are forty four tribes in Kenya then the Akorino. They are the most humble of the forty five with the radicals keeping free of pleasures of the world including education, cars, wealth and fun. Keeping free from the love of education has two major consequences one being that there is no English word for Mukurino and the stereotype that if you spot any of them at any university in Kenya, they are photographers. In fact where I hail from, the most affluent Mukurino is one who sharpens knives, axes and pangas using his bike. He also has a side hustle of repairing knife handles, fixing broken umbrellas, mending torn plastic water vessels and Wellingtons. Humanitarians. Problem solvers. God’s people.
As a child I used to like them. They came in the evening riding on their single gear black mamba bicycles, wearing very white, sin-free turbans that contrasted with their other clothes. I liked one in particular because he allowed me to sit on his bicycle as he cycled uphill if he met on my way from school. His name was Hosea son of Elikanah. Elikanah was a priest who also repaired bibles and fixed covers on them.
“Mother, it has been two months since I sharpened your tools of work,” he would call politely to my mother when he came over.
“This is good timing as they are all blunt. I trust everybody at home is well,” my mother would greet him.
“They are well ma’. Mother was ailing but God has been faithful she has recovered.”
“You there! Bring the knives, garden hoes and axe. Do not forget your father’s jembe or he will dig using you tomorrow,” my mother would shout to us, I wished she addressed us like she did to Hosea. Somehow Hosea could be her prophet Naman; we could be nothing but just her nonchalant boys.
“You in the kitchen bring Hosea here some tea,” mother would shout to my sister. The tea and tools to be sharpened would arrive at the same time, Hosea picked the tea first. As it was nightfall, sparks from the iron grinding iron as he sharpened would fly in the air behind in a wide beam like fireworks display. We liked it and jumped playfully over it. If Hosea had a good day, he would teach us the art of singing and dancing to an Akorino song. Sometimes he taught us how to akorinofy a normal song which left us happy. That’s why I liked the Akorino then.
As an adult, I love and appreciate them. They are the only tribe united behind a course-peace- during this election period while the rest of us are united behind a tribe. They pray for our nation and also make our president happy when they converge at the National Stadium. Great things also happen when they are united, now they were going to an international stadium, I could smell gold.
“Elijah.” One officer trying in futility to keep order at the gates of the Stadium called out to Manasseh and his family. (He thinks all Wakorino men are called Elijah.)
“I am Manasseh,” Elijah corrects the officer. The officer almost falls off the horse.
“Which one of your sons is Nebuchadnezzar?” I imagine the officer is asking them.
“She is expecting, maybe that will be the one. This is Zephaniah and this one is Luke.” “And I am Saul.” The officer introduces himself. I like think that’s what they are saying because the horse neighs and stands on its two hind legs, the officer almost falls off again but quickly say he is Paul.
“You know today we are having athletics here not the peace crusade,” the officer says to them.
“Yeah, I bought the boys flags to wave should they decide to wave something,” Manasseh tells the officer.
The officer Paul made a way for the apostolic family and they got a free pass to the VIP section. Talk of faith working miracles.
The competition went on well. The stadium was packed to capacity, we cheered any black child we saw on the tracks and jeered the white ones. We rode on Mexican waves as appreciation for the maize and screamed our voices hoarse. We-except one family- also cursed Ethiopians, they are always the bubble busters in the long distances and they did it again in the three thousand meters boys’ final but we crushed them in the steeplechase. It had to be due to the water. From the terraces we cheered the black, red, white and green colored top regardless of the name on the number plate. We were beautiful and black. We sang to the trumpet each time the national anthem was played. For once the tears of joy that I wrote about in primary school essays stung my eyes and cascaded down my visage. It was fulfilling seeing Kenyans shouting crazy for Kenyans and not for Kalenjins, Kisiis or Masaais even with the election cloud darkening the days as we approach the polls. How I prayed that the harmony could abide to eternity.
“Manasseh, don’t you think the female athletes are under dressed,” Rahab whispered to her husband’s ear when the screen showed the girl’s long jump.
“But they are Chinese.” Manasseh had a point.
“Somebody should change the rules here. If black girls started wearing that way then there will be a problem,” Rahab was not happy at all.
“They always wear the same way, but you cannot tell them apart from the boys.” I swear I liked Manasseh.
“Zephaniah, you should work hard in athletics and few years from now we will be celebrating you too,” Manasseh empowered his son.
“Father, do they allow somebody like us?” Luke asked before Zephaniah soaked in the motivation.
“Why not?” Rahab answered for Manasseh.
“Because we heard you were selected during the police recruitment but they left you out because you refused to take it off.”
“Who told you that?”
“Everybody knows that. Is it true?”
“Close in boys. Those were many years ago, today things have changed. Your religion does not limit you any more, in fact ours is a stamp of integrity. So go on boys, dream and follow your dreams.”
The family was altogether missed at the fans village for the after-party and that really saddened my spirits. The music was gospel for crying out loud. It was Mercy Masika and Eunice Njeri they could Akorinofy, but I doubt if they could do that to Kelele Takatifu. Anyway they could dance. I could picture Zephaniah copying the boys from Eastland who dance in a manner suggesting that mobile phones would be pickpocketed. His mother would shout out for his soul,”Zephania, the temple does not dance like that, we have taught you better.” “But mother…” “Zephania we are not going to have this discussion. Now we head home chap chap!”
In short what I am trying to say is a united country will experience growth and host international events that will open us up and teach us a lot. It will also enable us to see each other as beautiful not as threats. We are so diverse and different that when we should see each other as opportunities to tap into. If we allowed ourselves to mix we would be like scotch, finely blended with a tinge of wood. Then the Akorino would come in as the rocks, making us smooth and soothing as we go down. One man told me that elections should be a time of winnowing, a season to look forward to doing away with the chaff. Our general election however is a time of unpredictability, instability, exodus to our ethnic homes, and businesses closing down for a week or two. Every other plan we want to execute has to happen after elections, a single day that forces us to an early brake like a ferry. “I will get my certificate of good conduct after elections.” “For me, I will reply to this dude who was hitting on me on Facebook after elections because you never know.” Jameni, after eighth of August we shall still need one other to grumble about bad politics together over a beer, make traffic jams in the city to use as scapegoats with our hard-earned cars, eat mutura again after swearing against it during the last bout of diarrhea, go to work for that condescending Indian in Industrial Area or Kombo Munyiri Road, and make new Kenyan babies which is clearly the only thing made in Kenya by Kenyans for Kenya. Maybe this time we shall be wise enough to socialize them to become Kenyans.